I’m not sure if I’ve admitted this on here before but I have a confession: I used to be afraid of my kid. Before the Little Mister was born, I was wrapped up in how exciting it was going to be to have a kid. I pictured all the fun adventures we would go on. I pictured having a little mini-me who would play games and laugh at my jokes. I pictured the little guy who I’d get to dress in super cute clothes and who would justify my Ninja Turtle obsession. Life was going to be good with the little dude.
And then, after our long journey, he was here. Before I knew it, this slimey little guy was in my arms and I didn’t know what to do. I’d barely ever held a baby before that moment. And now, in a matter of seconds, the nurses took this kid and put him in my arms and said “Congratulations” before packing it up and leaving the room. OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but it felt like that. After all the waiting, he was in my arms and I was now responsible for a human life.
I had no idea the amount of love I would feel for this dude the instant he was born. Or the amount of fear. When we got home from the hospital the hubs was only home for a few days before he went back to work. And then it was just me and him for a large part of the day. We had (still have) an awesome nanny who helped in the mornings. She helped take care of him, did his laundry, changed his bed, did so much every day. But then in the afternoons, it was me and the Little Mister. And that scared the living daylights out of me. I wanted to do as much as possible with him because I wanted him to get used to having a mom in a wheelchair. That was hard, of course. I had all the normal concerns of a new mom, but also a few extras which apply to mom’s with mobility disabilities: holding him while moving being a main one.
There are several things which would hurt my feelings. When he was real young, he liked to be held while a person was standing when he was crying. That obviously couldn’t happen with me. It broke my heart when I couldn’t get him to stop crying and his dad, nanny or grandma would grab him and walk around and he was suddenly content. Or, sometimes when I was home alone with him and I had to transfer from my wheelchair to the sofa, and I set him down on the sofa to wait while I transferred and he would just look at me and cry like I was abandoning. I tried to explain to him that I can’t hold him and just stand up like other people can. But he was
stubborn a baby and didn’t understand. He just felt severe separation anxiety in that 45 seconds of being alone.
It got to the point where I was literally scared to be home alone with him. It was hard. It was exhausting. It was emotionally draining.
But then things began to change. As he got older, he started to understand a little more. I would wake him up from his nap and bring him out to the family room for a post-nap drink and snack. I would put him down in the chair so I could transfer. Until about 14 or 15 months he would cry when I set him down. But then, I started making a game of it. And after a few times of “throwing him” into the chair (I would lift him in a high arc from my lap to the chair and make a falling sound) he thought it was hilarious. No more tears. And now that he’s walking, I can put him on the ground where he waits by the chair for me to transfer. After I transfer into a chair in the family room, he raises his arms for me to pick him up because he knows it’s milk and snack time on my lap. No more tears [from either of us].
He’s also gotten so good at going out in public with me. I was so scared to go places alone with him. It’s easy to drown in the “what ifs”. What if he won’t sit still? What if he has a diaper accident and there’s not an accessible bathroom? What if people look at us funny? But I guess you can’t really give in to all the doubt and fear. Today, Little Mister and I had an awesome adventure. We had an entire morning to ourselves as his nanny had the day off and the Hubs was in meetings. So Little Mister and I went to Hobby Lobby where we spent an hour just looking at everything. He was loving the bead aisle, with all the colorful, shiny things to look at and different textures to feel. Then we went to the mall where he played in the soft foam play area. His idea of playing in public is often just standing there watching all the other kids run around. He’s a people watcher, like his mama. When he was done, he walked to the exit and tried to leave. I tried to usher him back in several times, but he was done. He sits on my lap so nicely that I didn’t even wrap him while we rolled around the store. It wasn’t until we were exiting to the parking lot that I tied him back to me.
I don’t think there will ever be a time that parenting from a chair will be easy for me. I think the obstacles will just change. But I am learning that he and I will both adapt. We are learning how to get through this all together. I’m just so lucky that Little Mister is such a great kid and so willing to learn. He’s too young to really get it yet. He just knows that I’m his mama and this is our normal. And I’m glad that I don’t let the fear overwhelm me. Because he is my mini-me who loves to play games and laughs at my jokes. And I’m glad because we had such a fun adventure today and I look forward to all the fun mom-son adventures to come!